The settlement that was to become Arcadia, Louisiana, (population 3,087) originated in the 1820s. In 1854, a group of 11 men formed a corporation, purchased a tract of land, and applied to the state legislature for a charter, and in 1855 Arcadia became an incorporated town.
Transportation has had a dramatic influence on Arcadia throughout its existence. The original site was on an east-west trail from the Mississippi to the Red River. Arcadia was situated at a midpoint between Monroe and Shreveport, where the east and west stages met at noon and at midnight to change horses and drivers and allow passengers to rest and dine. Later a north-south line was opened through the town, and Arcadia became a center for stage travel in all directions.
The second era of Arcadia’s development began in 1884 with the opening of the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Pacific Railroad two miles north of the original town site. The town relocated along the railroad and thrived as a rail transportation center.
Arcadia became well known in 1934 when the notorious Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were ambushed by the Bienville Parish Sheriff's posse and brought to Conger’s Funeral Home in Arcadia. Thousands of people lined the streets to see the outlaws, who were towed into town in the stolen car in which they were killed.
The original train depot, today the Bienville Parish Depot Museum, is listed on the National Register. It is located at the perimeter of Arcadia’s early 1900s commercial district near the town hall, courthouse, and library. The 1937 Arcadia Post Office, which is also nearby, still displays a Depression era WPA mural.
Each month, bluegrass musicians perform traditional sounds and songs of the region on the receiving platform of the depot, and the venue hosts such other events as government and business meetings and craft shows.
Designated a Preserve America Community in October 2007.